The world of gaming has undergone a number of transformations over the years. Arguably, all of these changes have moved the realism dial from .01 to well over 11. In recent years the word many gamers use to describe the desired state of a game is “immersion.” This is the feeling of a realistic world with sufficient complexity to stave off the inevitable return to mundane reality. It is in the realm of the open-world RPG where we hear this term most often, but it is easily the genre of the flight simulator that has pushed the “immersion” curve the farthest.
Beyond realistic graphics, convincing game physics, and complex world dynamics, flight simulators have gone farther to place realistic controls in the hands of the player than any other type of game. Not satisfied with a realistic airplane-style control stick, Logitech has created the Logitech G Saitek Pro Flight Radio Panel. This is a set of panels, with dials, knobs, toggle switches, scroll wheels, levers, and all the displays that a pilot would find in a real aircraft cockpit.
As fans of the genre will know, virtual cockpits are far from ideal as they take up space on the screen and are difficult to read. With the Logitech G Saitek Pro, your gaming monitor can be freed from all this nonsense and serve purely as a display for your view through the simulated windows of your cockpit.
Logitech G Pro Flight Radio Panel Review
Needless to say, there are a ton of things that could go wrong with such a gaming interface. In fact, it wasn’t until fairly recently that the Saitek panels even worked at all. However, Logitech has applied a few software patches and a new driver which have made the device work as promised, a fact that numerous game tech reviewers have been very pleased to report. Indeed, the immersion factor of flight simulators is vastly improved with the use of these panels.
The three most central panels to your flight simulation experience are the radio panel, the multi-panel, and the switch panel. Above all else, these panels give you a physical set of tactile switches and dials that are far more useful, realistic, and easy to use than virtual controls and displays could ever be.
The Pro Flight Radio Panel
This device features four LED displays and two sets of rotary switches that enable you to adjust comms and navigation frequencies.
The Flight Multi-Panel
This device includes a generously proportioned LED panel and allows you to adjust a wide range of autopilot features such as heading, altitude, navigation, and more. It also has a pitch trim and up/down adjustment for control surfaces.
The Flight Switch Panel
This features an array of switches including a replica of the magneto startups which allows you to startup and shutdown the aircraft in a far more realistic way. Perhaps the most interesting part of the switch panel is the landing gear up/down toggle switch. It gives you that all-important tactile feedback for raising and lowering the landing gear. Best of all, this switch offers the exact level of stiffness of a real landing gear switch- a fact that is likely to impress even experienced pilots.
The Flight Radio Panel In Depth
The radio panel is a recreation of the real radio panels used in many professional-grade flight simulators. It features frequency dials, analog selector knobs, and the iconic LCD style display. At first glance, it looks like it was salvaged from a decommissioned military bomber, and any fan of this genre of game or anyone who has ever spent time in a real airplane cockpit will appreciate the authentic feeling it delivers.
The Microsoft flight simulator is the most popular flight simulator available, and the Logitech radio panel is compatible with the 2004 and the X version of the game. The popular Pro Flight Yoke is also compatible with the radio panel and the above-mentioned versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
That being the case, Logitech doesn’t try to dominate a corner on the market by forcing you to use their design. They give you additional options by making their radio panel the same proportions of any radio panel and subsequent updates have made the device compatible with even more flight simulator programs.
Most flight simulators will work on Mac and PC, but PC gamers will have an easier time getting it running and will have more options. The radio panel will only run X-Plane 10 or higher on OXS, while PC users will be able to run a much wider range of programs and iterations.
To use it with your PC however, you’ll need Windows 7 or better and an additional USB port. The panel is very light on power consumption, which is a plus since you’re likely to have quite a collection of peripherals, including other panels if you’re a dedicated flight simulator gamer. The good news is that the low power needs of these devices mean that you are likely to do well with a simple USB hub.
Where the Logitech G Pro Flight Radio Panel really shines in terms of comparability is in the modularity of its flight simulator panel offerings. Some flight simulators use more of the available panels, others use less. Still, these devices will be compatible with all of them. If your game uses the entire gamut of panels, you will be able to integrate them. If it doesn’t, then you don’t have to either.
Radio Panels Functionality and Layout
At first glance all of the knobs panels, buttons can be a bit intimidating. But they should be. That’s because if you were to step into the cockpit of a real airplane, that’s how you would feel. The steep learning curve that the complexity of the panel indicates is accurate. Learning to fly a plane is a challenge and takes many hours to master. Therefore, a faithful reproduction of a flight panel would reflect that reality. The Logitech radio panel and its companion devices do this very well.
The radio panel can be set using a simple knob to Com 1 or 2, Nav 1 or 2, ADF, DME, or XPDR. Each one of these seven different options comes with its own frequency set depending on the type of airplane and the scenario in which you are flying. There are two such knobs on the panel and one display with two screens for each. The active display shows the frequency that you are on at the moment, and the standby frequency displays the one that you have the option of switching two by touching a button. When you hit the button labeled ACT/SBY (short for “active” and “Standby”) you can toggle between these two selected frequencies at your leisure.
This one feature by itself speaks volumes about real-world airplane technology and its historical limitations. This is just one example of how accurate and immersive these panels really are. Most video games will solve problems like this with an elegant, however unrealistic, game utility. But the best flight simulators and these Logitech products go the extra mile for realism.
To the right of each radio frequency display, you’ll find a silver knob. This is your fine tuner, much like in an old-fashioned car stereo. It looks fancy. It has a nice cross-hatched texture which is faithful to real aircraft radios and allows you to do the accurate selection of frequency indicator digits to the right of the decimal. The crosshatching on the dial is there to give your fingers grip such as you might need if the air was moist, your hands were sweating, or if the aircraft was hitting turbulence. The knobs also offer consistent resistance just as a real flight radio knob would do. While we did not open the panel up, it really feels like a tight, thick rubberband is in there- packed in between washer nuts. It’s yet another point of realism for which Logitech deserves to be praised.
It should be mentioned that the Logitech radio panel is not limited to radio tuning. It can be used for a number of different functions depending on the flight simulator you are using. Any function that requires precise adjustments will be well served by this device, and particularly the fine-tuning dials.
With the realistic touch and feel of the knobs and other controls, the convincing, heavy clicking sound of the options knob, and the impressive quality of life details – it would be disappointing if the radio panel was poorly made. We are pleased to report that it is not poorly made. It has a weight and solidity that suggest quality construction. It has a thick, textured plastic exterior that looks like the housing of a device that’s meant for real-world use. In the computing world, we would say it is “ruggedized.” The front panel is held on (or appears to be) by torque screws that add to its rugged, spartan appearance.
The mounting points have metal reinforcement which lets you bolt it down firmly. The printed labeling is real, not stickers. These will not peel or fade unless you take a screwdriver to them and deliberately scratch them off. As mentioned above, the motion and feel of the dials are an especially nice touch. They are consistent, offer a nice level of resistance, and stay put when you release them, even clumsily.
All in all, the Logitech G Saitek Pro Flight Radio Panel is made to stand up to hard use, and more importantly- to feel like the real thing. If you found this thing out in an open field and didn’t know it was a gaming device, you might think an airplane had crashed nearby. It’s that convincing.
Unless you get the new update, you will need a special driver to use this device with Flight Simulator X. Newly purchased radio dials should come with the latest software updates, fixing this problem. If you pick one up second hand or have put yours in storage, the good news is that with the new update, it is now fully functional. You may need to visit the Logitech website to download it. They will walk you through the process.
The fact that it is meant to be mounted inside a specific modular mounting system means that if you are using it alone, without the companion panels, then you might have a hard time securing it. These devices are meant to be used together, but they can be used singularly. That means you can build your simulator cockpit up slowly, but the learning curve will be radically altered as you do so.
If you start with the radio panel alone, you are likely to change control bindings to suit your flight style when you incorporate add ons. That will mean you have to adjust your “play” style when you add additional panels. Keep in mind that if you are attempting to use this as an actual flight trainer, you are not getting a good representation of a real-life cockpit unless you have the entire collection. That is not so much a drawback of the device as it is just a fact of reality.
Some users feel that the build quality is not commensurate to the price, at $149.99 for the radio module alone, which is understandable. But you’re going to pay a lot more for anything even remotely more advanced of realistic.
At the end of the day, you cannot get better flight simulator cockpit peripherals without joining the Airforce. They are easily among the best in class, and with recent software patches, just about any issues have been addressed.
- Twin concentric adjustment dials adjust frequency units incrementally for quicker selection of your required frequency
- Standby switch - set your standby frequencies and then set to active at the touch of a button
- Works with Microsoft Flight Simulator X and 2004. Game Compatibility : Flight Simulator X, X-Plane 11, X-Plane 10, Prepar3D 2.2+
- A set of switches and LED displays for use in controlling various aspects of flight
- LED displays work fully in real time with Flight Simulator X and 2004, removing the need to bring the radio stack up on screen